Randy Jackson Biography
Claim to Fame: Musician, producer, American Idol judge
DOB: June 23, 1956
Diabetes Type: 2
By Monica Gilbert Dennis
dLife Staff Writer
Grammy Award-winning producer Randy Jackson has recorded, toured, and performed with Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, NSYNC, Madonna, Elton John, and Destiny's Child, to name a few. He has worked on over 1,000 gold and multi-platinum albums. But today he is probably most notable because of his [now] 8-year run as one of the judges of the popular reality show, American Idol.
Born June 23, 1956 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jackson began performing at the age of 17. He gained notoriety in the 1980s when he joined the rock band, Journey, as a bassist.
dLife recently spoke with Randy about his diagnosis and his efforts on behalf of the American Heart Association's campaign, The Heart of Diabetes.
When were you diagnosed?
About six years ago. I thought I had a cold, flu, weird symptoms, you know, sweating, perspiring, really tired, urinating a lot. I didn't know what was going on. Finally I went to the doctor about ten days later and I got the shock of my life. My dad had it, I grew up in the back woods of Louisiana in the South and I didn't really think it would ever happen to me. It was just so out of the realm of reality and health at that point.
How are you handling it today?
I've got it down to a science. I know who I want to be finally.
Why this campaign?
It's a great awareness campaign. So many people don't know the complications, symptoms. Most people never go the doctor as I never used to go. I go four times a year now. We're trying to get the word and the message out. This campaign is running for quite a while but it should go on forever. The American Heart Association is going to keep it real for everybody. One of the leading killers amongst diabetics is cardiovascular disease. It's just awareness all around, trying to help everyone.
You mentioned that food is an emotional issue for you. Have you conquered that?
I think it is an issue for most people. I grew up in the South. Eating with the family, about every meal was 2 or 3 courses. May as well just pour sugar all over your body. It's the big family meal. There's two things that go with the South. People will see you and go, "Man! Looks like you're dropping weight. Better eat something!" and the best one, "Boy, you're putting on that weight, you must be living good or living right now!" It's joyous food, joyous occasions. I grew up with it, wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I'm a good old Southern boy.
Do you have any special tips you'd like to share abut managing diabetes?
Just really checking your blood sugar, getting one of those little testing kits and really testing your blood sugar as often as you can. I think to really know where you are before you eat and after you eat is just so important so you know how to best manage the food you are taking in. And also I adopted what I call the morsel diet. It's like the airplane meal. There's like the 3 ounces of fish and there's the sliver of the cake and there's the one little roll, the little handful of salad. The portion control is just so paramount. To me the portion control is more important when you're trying to change your lifestyle, is to try to get the portion control together. Too much of anything is not going to be good for you. Cause you're not going to cut out things you love. If you decide that I'm never going to have a piece of bread in my life, I'm going to cut rice out, you're going to fall off really bad and eat like 100 pounds of it one day.
Once you start dropping weight, you kind of want to work out. Now my body is telling me every day I want to work out. As opposed to when I was like 352 pounds. I have a routine. I've worked it out for myself. There's two important things to me about trying to get your weight together. It's just trying to get to your healthy weight. And there's also the doctor prescribes I'm X amount in height and I should weigh this, I say if you get close to that, you're good. You're good and you're lucky. You're got to set realistic goals for yourself. I think it's about the persistence and the steadiness. I would rather somebody change three things in their whole eating program and pull back on the portion size and just start walking the mall every day than try to cut everything out, just go cold turkey. It's never going to work. Certainly if you fast you'll lose weight but trust me, it's going to come right back on. You're going to start back to eating food and not eating food is just not realistic.
Have you faced any challenges as a person with diabetes?
For me, it's been sort of a wake-up call because it really made me get my health in check. It's been a blessing for me in a weird sort of way - a cursed blessing. It gave me a wake-up call, "Hey you're killing yourself. What are you doing?" Nothing rings louder than that. You don't want to go around feeling bad all the time. Nobody wants that.
What did you think about the American Idol contestants who came out that they had diabetes? Is there anyone in this current season who has diabetes?
I talk about that all the time. I'm very open about it. I encourage other people to be open about it because I think community sharing can be a very good thing. My friend Elliott Yamin also is a diabetic. He and I chatted about it a couple of times. He's doing really good with his health and managing it. It's good looking across the room knowing somebody knows your pain. A couple of people came up to me this year but they didn't make it through the cuts.
[This campaign is about] using my celebrity, and I think all celebrities should do that, just trying to build some awareness for a great cause. It can happen to anyone is basically what the message is, celebrity or noncelebrity.
Last fall, Randy launched his own radio countdown show, "Randy Jackson's Hit List," for the Westwood One Radio Network. Jackson lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.
Learn more about heart disease and diabetes, and The Heart of Diabetes Campaign.
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